BITTER… RESENTFUL… ANGRY… HATEFUL… UNLOVING… CYNICAL… IMPRISONED… GUARDED.
SEEDS OF UNFORGIVENESS….and to think that the person who carries this weight is the one who was hurt- NOT the one who committed the trespass. Many times we can find ourselves carrying the burden of other people’s choices and decisions- decisions they made that hurt, disappointed and/or wounded us. Long after they have moved on, we are still left to contend with the negative emotions that often spill over into our other relationships and act as a poison that slowly kills our spirit and ability to see beyond what was done to us. Meanwhile, the “perpetrator” is probably on to the next “victim” and probably not fully aware of the damage that they left behind. If Lewis B. Lewis told the truth when he said “To forgive is to set a prisoner and discover that the prisoner was you” then why aren’t people willing to forgive? If forgiveness leads to freedom, then why do people fight it, and why is it so hard to do?
For some people, it feels good to be the victim. Rehearsing the injury story over and over creates a false sense of security. It’s hard to believe, but the love and support that we get from others while we are in our pain becomes a security blanket. It sounds like, “Oh, my goodness! You poor thing. How could this happen to someone like you?” or it could sound like, “You didn’t deserve this! You are such a good person!” We begin to lust for the attention that we receive from replaying the victimization story to ourselves and to others. We are comforted. We are accepted. We are justified because our pain is glorified, and it feels GOOD, but only temporarily. Soon the bitterness and resentment creep back up because they want to be the super star. THEY want to be the recipient of all of your energy and focus, and it begins to take a toil on us mentally, physically, emotionally and socially. Here is the truth: rehearsal leads to reinfection. Every time we rehearse the story from the victim standpoint, we reinfect the wounds of our hurt. We pull the scab off and allow the blood and puss from our hurt to contaminate and pollute our perspective and our relationships with other people.
Other people fight against the idea and the process of forgiveness because of the myth that forgiveness means letting the perpetrator “get away with” whatever act they have committed. We feel as if remaining angry, resentful or bitter will send the message to the person and to the world that says they hurt me! We think that forgiving them will absolve them of responsibility and prolong their apology or admittance of their wrong. As a matter of fact, many people refuse to forgive until the person apologizes to them or makes restitution for what they did. We walk around with all the luggage and the baggage of the hurt that the other person caused under the crazy assumption that it will make them pay! Here is the truth: we are the ONLY ones who suffer when we do not forgive. Yes, the people in our inner circle suffer because of the weight that we unknowingly bring into the relationship but the harsh burden of unforgiveness ultimately weighs more heavily on the individual who carries it. Forgiveness is a selfish act. It is not for the person who wronged you; IT IS FOR YOU.
There are so many different reasons why people do not forgive- from self-entitlement to ignorance- not knowing that they truly need to forgive. The reasons why we don’t forgive will never outweigh the reasons why we should forgive. Forgiveness is the precursor to healing. NO forgiveness equals NO healing and NO freedom. The myth that forgiveness is for the weak couldn’t be further from the truth. Forgiveness is actually for the strong. It takes strength to actually be willing to let go of the hurt and unwrap the gift of forgiveness for ourselves. Forgiveness is a process that begins with a decision. It simple yet complex. It is freeing yet it can, at times, be uncomfortable. It is taking responsibility back to a path of healing, peace and contentment because we intentionally release the pain of the past and move intentionally move into the future into a place of happiness that is totally possible no matter what the offense was.
Write in a journal.
Take up a hobby.
Join a church.
Surround yourself with goodness.
Build yourself back up.
Renew your commitment to YOU.
Do SOMETHING, but don’t keep holding on to unforgiveness like your life depends on it because in actuality, your life- your best self and your emotional health- depends on you letting unforgiveness go. Decide today to be done, and go find your healing. You are worth it, and your future self will thank you.